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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

South Africa: Zoliswa Nkonyana murder trial resumes

Source: Cape Times

By Luvuyo Mjekula

As the murder trial of Zoliswa Nkonyana resumed on Monday, gay and lesbian rights activists protested outside the Khayelitsha court complex demanding speedy justice after a string of postponements.

About 200 protesters from anti-homophobia groups, including the Coalition to End Discrimination, Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Freegender, Triangle Project and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) toyi-toyied outside the complex.

Armed with banners and posters, they called for justice for Nkonyana and the many other lesbian, gay and bisexual people raped, shamed and killed for choosing to be "out". The message was also for Nkonyana's trial to be treated as involving a hate crime.

Nkonyana, 19, was murdered on February 4, 2006, allegedly because she was openly lesbian. She was attacked after she left a shebeen when female patrons allegedly tried to force her to use a male toilet.

When she refused and left to use a toilet elsewhere, a group of men followed her and stabbed her to death.

Nine Khayelitsha men now aged 19 to 24 have been charged with her murder. They have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and two of attempted murder for alleged attacks on Nkonyana's friend who was with her when she was killed as well as a man who was passing by.

Inside Regional Court C, the trial resumed with a trial-within-a-trial on the admissibility of warning statements taken from some of the accused. Three defence attorneys claimed their accused were "minors" at the time they gave warning statements. Therefore, their constitutional rights had been violated, they argued. The trial-within-a-trial continues today.

The Triangle Project's director, Marlow Valentine, has been following the trial and was part of the protest on Monday.

He told the Cape Times that it should be made clear that Nkonyana had been targeted because she was a lesbian.

"It needs to be made clear that it was not another township murder," said Valentine.

The protest had achieved its objective of a "collaborative campaign" against hate crimes, he said.

Valentine added that the Triangle Project was happy that the directorate of public prosecutions was monitoring the case.

It had been plagued by a string of postponements over three years but state prosecutor Alfred Isaacs hoped to wrap up the state's case by the end of the week.

TAC organiser Lumkile Sizila said they wanted to see Nkonyana's killers sent to jail.

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